With its long-awaited Vista operating system finally on the verge of launching, Microsoft finds itself, once again, in a familiar situation. A group of its rivals, including Sun, IBM and Adobe are complaining to the EU that the company should be flagged for antitrust violations. The group alleges that the adoption of Vista paves the way for the company to extend its dominance to the internet, and that the company is poised to subvert the dominant HTML standard with a standard of its own. This is a pretty bold claim, but there doesn't seem to be much backing it up. As evidence that this is Microsoft's plan, the group notes that Microsoft will include a document authoring tool with Vista that will compete with Adobe, but use Microsoft's own standards, a move it likens to Microsoft's bundling of the Windows Media Player, which the EU had problems with. As in the case of Windows Media Player, which hardly forced that standard on users, there's no reason why a user can't simply download an alternative authoring tool. Instead, it just sounds like Adobe doesn't want to compete with Microsoft's offering. Then, to top off the complaint, the group blithely adds that Vista will result in less consumer choice, a dependence on Microsoft for fixing bugs and, of course, higher prices. In other words, they're making the same complaint that people have made for the past several years, during which time several competitors have emerged to battle Microsoft in some way or another. Another thing that makes the argument look weak is that the group chose to register the complaint in the EU, which has been much more hostile to Microsoft in recent years than the US has been. If the complaint were strong, then there's no reason for them not to bring it up in the US as well. If you look at the market today, there's no question that there are a number of strong competitors to Microsoft, particularly on the internet, but, the message coming from these particular companies, bringing the complaint, is that they need help.
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